Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mystery Times Ten Nearing Completion!

The files for the book have been edited, laid out, proofed, corrected and were sent off to the printer today!

Woo Hoo!

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Today's the day, so RUN, don't walk to your local bookshop and load up on some summer reading for the long, lazy days ahead! Where will we be shopping? Stop by The Raconteur Bookshop in Metuchen NJ and you might just run into us! Don't just sit there - get going, there's bookshops to save! NOW!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Today's DEFINITELY a Better Day!

* Photo Copyright John Harmon

Digital Jumps, Print Plunges in AAP Monthly Sales Report

Sales of the three adult trade segments had a steep decline in April, hurt no doubt by Borders and its going out of business sales. The major houses, who are among the publishers that report to AAP’s monthly sales report, were shipping selectively to Borders on a cash basis during the month and received no money generated by the GOB sales of existing inventory. As a result, sales of adult hardcover fell by 22.7% in April from the 19 companies that report to AAP, while trade paperback sales at 21 houses fell 25.4%. Sales of mass market paperback, for which Borders is an important outlet, plunged 41.6% for the 11 reporting houses. Sales in the children’s/YA segment rose 1.5% in April from 18 houses, but children’s/YA paperback sales declined 7.2%.
E-book sales had another strong month, with sales up 157.5%, to $72.8 million from 22 reporting companies. The increase, however, was not enough to offset declines in the print sector and as a result combined print and digital sales of trade books fell 10% at the reporting companies in the month.
For the first four months of the year, the sales decline was less severe. E-book sales were up 162.9% for the period, to $312.9 million, while print sales in the five trade segments were down 18.7%, leading to an overall decline of 4% in the first four months of 2011.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Montana deep woods are calling. . . .

The Last Track: A Mike Brody Novel (Kindle Edition) This is a fast paced action-thriller and Mike Brody a first-class tracker. Brooklyn born and raised, 14 year old Sean Jackson witnessed a murder near the Pine Woods Ranch in Montana and the killers want him dead. Sean is on the run and becomes lost in Montana's deep woods. Mike Brody and his family (Jessica and Andy), also guests at the dude ranch, become instrumental in searching for Sean and identifying the murdered victim. Ranch employees and/or local Police Officers do not want the Brody family to succeed and they do not want Sean Jackson found alive. Who should be trusted - Officer Dagget? Detective Lisbeth? Pine Woods Ranch owner, Erich? DEA Agent Crotty?

*a recent 5 star review on Amazon by  S. Ackerman

Thursday, June 9, 2011

8 Ways to Develop Better Relationships with Bloggers

By Fauzia Burke, Founder and President, FSB Associates
When authors come to me and say, “I want to reach book bloggers or mommy bloggers,” I often have to tell them that bloggers have very specific tastes. More specific than you probably realize. For example, when reaching out to mommy bloggers, it is really important to know the age of their kids. Pitching a YA novel to a mommy blogger with a baby won’t get you far. Pitching a Sci-Fi novel to a blogger that loves historical romance won’t work either. Sending a WWII book to a blogger that covers the Civil War will make for a cranky blogger, and sending a press release to the wrong person may actually get you black listed.
So here are some tips to help you develop better relationships with bloggers.

Know Their Beat

The best piece of advice to any publicist trying to build a relationship with bloggers is to build it through mutual respect, trust, and consistency. Make sure you know the blogger’s focus and area of interest.

Search for Blogs

If you are looking for bloggers, try Alltop, Technorati, or Google Blogsearch. Another interesting but time-consuming site is called Listorious; it helps you search for people and lists on Twitter.
At FSB, we have also set up a directory where book bloggers are listed by category. Each book blogger has registered and submitted the information themselves and others are welcome to join. The directory is available for free to everyone – bloggers and publicists alike.

Value of Bloggers

It’s good to know the traffic of blogs, but don’t dismiss bloggers with less traffic. It is important to look at the “full reach” of a blogger. Sometimes blog features from smaller blogs can generate more chatter on social networks. It’s a good idea to follow them on Twitter and “Like” them on Facebook to check out their social networks. Some bloggers post reviews on multiple sites so they can be more valuable for that reason alone. Remember also, that placements on niche sites (with less traffic) can sometimes be more effective than placements on a large general interest site.
There isn’t a consistent way to get traffic information for every type of blog. However, here are a few tips: You can always see the number of people that are subscribed to an RSS feed (usually listed on each blog website); another way is to use a web tool like Compete or Alexa, but unfortunately these tools don’t keep traffic for all blogs; and lastly you could always check out a blog’s advertising info or media kit.

Make Things Easier

Understanding the needs of bloggers will help you work with them. Make note of the type of coverage they have. Do they like to interview authors, review books, do raffles or post guest blogs? Then make sure you send them the materials they need in a timely fashion.
Because bloggers need quality content often, we have set up a website just for bloggers called FSB Media. Bloggers can request review copies plus “grab” quality content from published authors. We make sure we have permission already in place so bloggers can feature the content on their site with ease.

Approach Bloggers One at a Time

Every time I say that, people either roll their eyes in disbelief or try to sell me on the benefits of mail merge. Here’s the honest truth: you are better off reaching out to 50 bloggers one at a time than 500 via mail merge. You’ll actually get better results. Is it time consuming and labor intensive? You bet. Is it worth it? Yes!

Don’t Push

Without follow-up nothing will come of your pitching, so you need to find time to follow up and develop skills in asking without being pushy or rude. Every good publicist needs to master the delicate art of begging.

Represent Good Content

Don’t send out press releases, articles, or op-eds that are not written well. Make sure the content that leaves your hands always looks professional and does not have spelling or grammatical mistakes.
There are a few endorsements from bloggers on our site, and I read them as market research for this piece. Many of them noted that being consistent and professional is important to them.

Perfect Your Publicity Database

All of these tips are good and fine, but unless you make some changes to your contact database, these tips will be difficult to implement. At FSB, we have several fields in our custom-designed database that help us develop relationships with bloggers.  We record when the contact was added, by whom, and any notes about their likes and dislikes. We also keep track of all the books sent to every blogger and which ones featured our books. This practice allows us to learn more about the blogger with every interaction and only send them the books he/she would be inclined to cover.
I hope these tips help you develop better long-term relationships with bloggers. A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog on The Huffington Post called Book Bloggers Rock! where I thanked them for their hard work and dedication to books and authors. I stand by that idea and encourage publicists and publishers to change internal publicity systems to develop an ongoing dialogue and relationship with bloggers.
Fauzia Burke is the Founder and President of FSB Associates, a publicity and website development firm specializing in creating awareness for books and authors on the web. For web publicity and social media news, follow Fauzia on Twitter: @FauziaBurke.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Book Video: Not an Oxymoron Anymore

By Rich Fahle, Founder, Astral Road Media There’s an ongoing discussion in the publishing business about the value of book trailers; the short, promotional videos often produced as part of the marketing campaign to support a book’s big release.
Even if you’re a big reader, it’s possible that you’ve never seen a book trailer before. Unlike their better-known cousins from Hollywood, there are no established forums or venues dedicated to the viewing and discussion of book trailers. No packed movie houses, no IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes or Apple trailer sites for books, no DVD releases to target a receptive viewing audience. Not in the book biz—at least not yet.
Instead, to find a book trailer today, you’ll likely have to visit an author’s website or Facebook page, which mean you’re probably already familiar with the author and their book. Perhaps you’ll notice a video on the book’s Amazon.com title detail page or one of the other online retail sites. Or, if the trailer is particularly well-done and engaging, it may even break through the noise and go viral, eventually finding its way to your inbox or social media channel of choice.
At this stage however, despite the fact that there are a lot of trailers being produced, there’s not a corresponding buzz among booklovers for them. And if we’re being honest, book trailers often lack the pass-along factor because many of these videos are, well, not very good.
But that’s not to say that there haven’t been some very successful book trailer videos, at least in terms of overall views. The video for the spoofish Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith was a big viral hit, generating more than 600,000 views and counting. An author that I’ve worked with, Kelly Corrigan, helped catapult her book, The Middle Place to The New York Times bestseller list in 2009 with her heartfelt video, Transcending, now at 4.7 million views. I still smile at the book video we created for Kelly in honor of Mother’s Day, You Never Stop Being a Mom.
In his recent Video-Commerce.org post, Grant Crowell profiled Pastor Rob Bell’s trailer for his new book, Love Wins, which has generated more than 200,000 views along with a good deal of discussion and debate. Clearly, when done well, book trailers are more than capable of earning their keep.
Yet, despite the power of the video medium and the low barriers to entry for anyone who wants to take advantage of video’s powerful reach, the debate rages on about video’s value in book marketing.
Why is it, in an era when more and more industries are embracing video as a marketing fundamental, within a publishing business that is itself rooted in media, and where many of the biggest publishers are in fact owned by large media companies themselves, should there be even the slightest reluctance to embrace video as a key marketing ingredient?

A Narrow View of Video

Cost is rightfully an important consideration for anyone entertaining the video option for the first time. Indeed, fully scripted, costumed segments with actors and elaborate sets like those used in the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter video will definitely cost more than, for example, the simple, home camera-style shoot of Kelly Corrigan’s Transcending video, both linked above. I’ve also heard people claim that a trailer is “too long,” poorly acted or just plain boring—legitimate concerns, all.
But I believe that the bigger reason for the reluctance lies in publishing’s narrow embrace of video to date—and the over-emphasis on the “trailer” form itself.
The trailer idea is borrowed from a different industry entirely, one with it’s own target audience assumptions, value equations, and requirements relating to artistic approach. With movie trailers, we’ve come to expect a 30-60-second duration, the need to take your breath away in a short period of time, and the inclusion of a pithy, action-packed-thrill-ride-style quote from one of the critics. In short, everything encapsulated in the now infamous trailer intro, “In a world….”
But for anyone involved in maximizing the full potential of video, why limit its power and reach by inflicting another industry’s set of specific rules on your efforts? Or put another way, why borrow someone else’s video strategy when you can make a better one yourself?
When you let go of the narrow application, and think of the possibilities video brings to authors and content creators of all types, the value equation can change radically. When instead applied to the individual strengths of an author or expert and not simply to the sole act of selling a book at release time, video becomes more than just an expensive, gimmicky, 30-second commercial: It becomes an extension of the conversation—and likely far more interesting to that author’s niche audience, as well.

Understanding the Full Potential

Clearly, there are many authors and content creators who are embracing the new, more expansive canvas available to them now. Beyond just text on paper, these authors are expanding the definition of what it means to be author and providing an example to others similarly drawn to the idea of connecting with fans more immediately, where they are, and in the stream of their daily lives:
Gretchen Rubin is the author of The Happiness Project, a memoir of her year she spent sampling theories, studies and pop culture lessons about how to be happier. But beyond the printed book, Gretchen also created an ongoing dialogue using her blog, Facebook and Twitter sites, and YouTube channel. She frequently sits down to talk to her hundreds of thousands of fans and share her insights with short, inexpensive video missives. The result? The conversation continues, her reach grows, and yes, just last week, the paperback edition of her book reached #1 on the The New York Times bestseller list. For Gretchen, video is another arrow in her quiver, but certainly an important part of creating a human connection that we can see and share and trust.

John Green is the author of the Printz Award-winning book Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, and other books. Together with his brother Hank, John created the Vlogbrothers YouTube channel, where the two brothers chat back and forth by video. It seems to be working: 140 million views later, the conversation rolls on, as do the popularity of the Green brothers, whose Nerdfighters.com website provides another connection point for their videos. Occasionally, fellow author Maureen Johnson, recently named one of Time Magazine’s 140 Best Twitter Feeds, joins John and Hank and provides her own videos, much to the delight of her fans, who follow and converse with Maureen on a daily basis.
When it comes to selecting authors who use video effectively, Gary Vaynerchuk is low-hanging fruit. One of the pioneers of the online video series genre with Wine Library TV, he’s recently launched a new wine program, The Daily Grape—along with two bestselling books, Crush It! and his newest big seller, The Thank You Economy. Besides his daily programs, Gary regularly takes to his UStream channel for live, impromptu conversations with his fans, which he blends with Twitter for a more interactive experience.
None of these videos required a large production budget. Most did not include a script or costumes. All connect with viewers in a way that is different than a trailer and that provide a fan connection on a regular basis.

Don’t Leave Perfectly Great Content on the Table.

Thoughtful video has an incredible ability to evoke passion, make you laugh, tell a story, engage your senses, and get you excited—in short, all the things that books do in text format. To be sure, not all authors will see themselves in these video examples. But other video opportunities exist for each book, for each author, for each audience. Seeing these opportunities requires creating a strategy unique to your business and your audience.
As anybody with an iPad or Kindle can tell you, the digital shift is creating a massive disruption in the book industry, and new reading devices are paving the way for new opportunities for publishers. Ebooks, apps, and other digital advances are opening the door for publishers to provide broader access to their authors, beyond the printed text, whether in physical or ebook form. Transmedia presentations, combining text, audio, video, and other communication forums, are slowly making their way into the consciousness of readers and browsers. Many authors are pushing the boundaries of their craft to the point where the term “writer” might soon be an insufficient designation.
As the platform expands then, why should a publisher, that spends enormous time and resources cultivating new talent, limit their curation and distribution expertise to only the part of the project that can be typeset?
In the book world that I see crashing through the ceiling, every publisher will be required to be a full-fledged media company, complete with a robust and creative video production division—or a partner that can capably develop this important extension of the author platform.
The lessons of the publishing industry go beyond books, obviously. Video, with its incredible ability to tell a story and complement other storytelling formats, will play a critical part in the marketing and presentation of every major business in the future. For each business, the strategy will be different, and each company must avoid looking at video through the lens of how it’s been done before, by other people in other industries for somebody else’s audience.
This article was originally published at Video-Commerce.org and has been reprinted here with Mr. Fahle’s permission.
Rich Fahle is the founder of Astral Road Media, a full-service digital media agency for authors, artists and content creators of all types. He is the former Vice President of Content, Digital Outreach and Entertainment for Borders. More info at www.astralroad.com or @richfahle on Twitter.